Where’s a hot flush when you need one?!?!

Ladies of a certain age will appreciate my dilemma here. The bloody hot flushes always come at inconvenient moments but I sure could’ve done with some as we set off at 5am last Friday morning. Our goal in leaving that early was to beat the Florida heat, but the temperature went all crazy on us and it was only 41F when we left.
Unfortunately, it just kept getting colder as we rode throughout the day. By the time we reached Gainesville we were two frozen icemen and needed a Starbucks stop to try and defrost a bit.

Heading to North Carolina

The purpose of this mini-trip to NC was to be a practice to finalize our packing list for our Europe trip. It’s only a week now until the bike and our baggage gets shipped off, so we wanted to be sure that we have everything together.

The main (& by far the most important) thing we discovered was that layering doesn’t work if you don’t have the right layers 🙁
We had been deliberating for a while on which of our Klim bike jackets to take. The heavier ones (Badlands, his & Altitude, mine) or the lighter (Induction & Avalon) ones. Iain was all for the heavier ones but I argued that only the first 3 weeks riding would be in the colder climates when we’d be in and around the Alps. However, after that we’d be heading more south and into Italy, Corsica, Sardinia and Southern France. By this time it’d be June/early July and we would be sweating our butts off in the heavy jackets! He agreed and we decided that using the lighter jackets and layering clothes would be sufficient to see us through the chillier Alps days.

Murphy NC
Ha ha…I take you back to the first paragraph. 41F in Florida and getting colder as we traveled north, with rain in the forecast for Murphy, NC which was our destination. As much as we wanted this trip to resemble how we were going to travel to Europe, we decided on using the heavier jackets this weekend. Very wisely I might add! Despite having on one tank top, one t-shirt, one long sleeve top, one North Face jacket AND the heavy bike jacket, I was feeling like a polar ice pop by the time we arrived. Unfortunately, this was a feeling I had to have the entire weekend. We had some great days riding and discovering new roads in NC, but I was eternally grateful for the amazing shower in our AirBnB at the end of the day!

Our first day dawned dull, drizzly and, yep, you guessed it…COLD!

Undaunted, we chose a route, layered up to stay warm (or not) and headed out. After about 20 minutes and already chilled to the core, we debated whether to just turn round, take a loss and watch NetFlix all day. But no, hardened adventure bikers that we are (!), we pressed on…and are so thankful that we did 🙂
Even though it was damn cold (did I mention that already?) we ended up having a great days ride. We experienced thrilling new roads, an awesome waterfall, ate some good food and met fun people 🙂
The Hub Cafe, WNC
The Hub Cafe, WNC
The Hub Cafe, WNC
In a town called Robbinsville we stopped to thaw out, grab some coffee and a bite to eat in a café we came across called The Hub. We were the only folks in there and the guys couldn’t have been more obliging. They quickly cooked up some great breakfast, which wasn’t on the menu and served us some of the best coffee ever. We chatted and bantered about riding, the weather and the upcoming Europe trip and they helped us to make a plan on where to ride on from there. They suggested the Cherohala Skyway which would take us out from Robbinsville and over to Tellico Plains. Now, they did warn that we “may see a bit of snow up there.” but seriously…
In all fairness, those conditions only lasted approximately ten minutes at the very peak but it was too overcast to really enjoy the scenery or the views. I bet it’s a fabulous ride to do on a clearer day.
As you near the end of the Skyway, a left turn takes you out towards a really cool waterfall, Bald River Falls, that is right at the side of the road. No hiking needed thankfully as I was way too cold for that lark!
Bald River Falls, Tellico Plains
Bald River Falls, Tellico Plains
Bald River Falls, Tellico Plains
Bald River Falls, Tellico Plains
As we posed for a while we noticed a bunch of bikers passing. All different makes, models and types and they were displaying stickers on their windshields. It wasn’t until we stopped a bit further down at the end of the Skyway, in Tellico Plains, that we realized there was a huge rally going on. March Moto Madness 2018 was taking place right in the area and we had had no idea about it. We’re so clued up on motorcycle events!!

The wonderful little café/bakery that we stopped in, Tellico Grains, was jam packed with bikers and as soon as we stepped in we could tell why! The cakes on display were just scrumptious. Yep, the whole Keto Diet thing went out the window right then and there!

After hanging out with the bikers a while and enjoying the coffee, we headed on back to Murphy along some more great twisty roads. Iain was in his element! So much so, we did it all again in reverse the next day!

Tellico Grains Bakery
Tellico Grains Bakery
Tellico Grains Bakery
Tellico Grains Bakery
The next morning, we took a bit of a diversion as I had spotted a waterfall on the map that we bypassed on the way back. We never actually found it, but the ride turned into a bit of an adventure! Happily following the directions along a paved and named highway, we were somewhat perturbed when it just suddenly turned into a gravel/dirt track!

Iain did a great job of riding given that we only had every day road tires on the bike. Thereby solidifying another Europe trip decision that had to be made…he has now had some dual sport Heidenau tires fitted. The good folks at Euro Cycles of Tampa Bay managed to squeeze in the job quickly as we were running down on time by the time we got back home. At least now we know that, whatever terrain we come across, we are going to be on some good tread!

Arriving back in Tellico, we were disappointed to find that the the café was closed. However, that meant we found another great place to get fueled up! The Cotton Pickin Inn served a marvelous breakfast that set us up well for the mornings riding.

Again, the plans went a bit wonky and I missed a turn but that bought us out on a familiar route that we had no idea we were so close to. Those of you who ride will have heard about the “Tail of the Dragon”. An 11 mile stretch with 318 curves, it is considered by many to be Americas number one motorcycle and sports car road. We enjoyed the “Tail” today more than ever before as the road was comparatively clear and in the past it has been pretty busy when we have ridden it.
The tail of the dragon
The tail of the dragon
The tail of the dragon
The tail of the dragon
At the end of the route and heading back in to Robbinsville, we stopped to take the short hike to Yellow Creek Falls. I’m not entirely convinced that the 1/3mile stated distance was correct, it seemed like way longer than that but was certainly worth it when we got there despite tripping on some tree roots and upsetting my poor old foots recovery!
Yellow Creek Falls
Yellow Creek Falls
After stopping for more good coffee at The Hub, we took a chance at the Cherohala Skyway again. It was much clearer today and we were able to enjoy the sweeping curves and expansive views much better. Although it was still super cold up there!

Back ‘home’ in Murphy we made the most of that fabulous shower to thaw and regain the feeling in our fingers and toes before stepping out for dinner. Murphy is a great little place to stay. For a small town it has some really good choices in the way of bars and restaurants. We were not disappointed in any of the places we tried and the people were super friendly, ready to chat and didn’t seem put out by having strangers in the midst as some small towners can be!

Our last day found us heading back to Highlands! Of course, how could we ever be so close and not take that fabulous ride along the Hwy 64 route with its twists, turns and spectacular views! I even managed to discover a new waterfall that we hadn’t stopped at before. Silver Run Falls is just south of Cashiers and it was only a ¼ mile walk from the trail head, for real this time!

Silver Run Falls, NC
Silver Run Falls, NC
Silver Run Falls, NC
All too soon it was time to head back on the long ride home and some warmer weather! The weekends practice run achieved its aim and we were able to make some good decision changes and adjust what we’re taking with us for the long haul ride. Counting down, just 7 weeks to go now 🙂
Cherohala Skyway
Yellow Creek Falls
Tellico Plains
Cherohala Skyway

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Europe 2018

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Follow our posts as we prepare for our 13 week tour of Europe that starts in May 2018!

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